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Old 20-01-2024, 10:28   #1
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Open Source Arduino Alternator Regulator

I am mostly done developing an alternator regulator with the following features
  • Fully open source, based on Arduino Uno microcontroller, programmable with any PC/laptop
  • Probably <half the cost of any other product in this category
  • Display showing voltage, current, temperature, field command and any error data
  • 12, 24, 48V system support (automatically, same hardware + software)
  • Max 12 amp field current
  • Remote voltage sensing
  • Thermistor for alternator temp sensing
  • Hall effect type alternator output current sensor (clamp style for easy installation)
  • Infinitely programmable charge profile for any battery chemistry
  • Infinitely expandable to communicate with any other device (CAN, NMEA, etc) or add other inputs/outputs
  • Protected + stable power supply (Buck/Boost power regulator operates from 2V to 100V, Reverse Polarity Protected to –40V)
  • 120dB warning buzzer programmable for any fault condition

Are there any other features that people want? Now is the easiest time to add things before finalizing the first PCB order.
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Old 20-01-2024, 11:53   #2
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Re: Open Source Arduino Alternator Regulator

Yes, for LiFePO4 I would like a "safe float mode". This would be where charging stops at a set voltage and then the regulator limits current out of the battery to say one amp. If it can get that measurement from my existing Victron shunt would be great.

Thanks, Joe
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Old 20-01-2024, 23:53   #3
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Re: Open Source Arduino Alternator Regulator

I’d love to replace my two Balmar MC614s. Please PM or post when ready for orders!

Feature request: 2 engine mode so that the two regulators don’t fight or confuse each other.
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Old 21-01-2024, 02:27   #4
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Re: Open Source Arduino Alternator Regulator

Is it on github?
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Old 21-01-2024, 02:57   #5
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Re: Open Source Arduino Alternator Regulator

Quote:
Originally Posted by fxykty View Post
I’d love to replace my two Balmar MC614s. Please PM or post when ready for orders!

Feature request: 2 engine mode so that the two regulators don’t fight or confuse each other.

Yes, I would be interested in this also.
Question why are you not happy with the Balmars? I am yet to be convinced they are a good option for me.
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Old 21-01-2024, 05:33   #6
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Re: Open Source Arduino Alternator Regulator

Consider using an ESP32 instead of a Nano. Most have WiFi and BLE. Configuring with a web browser would be nice.
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Old 21-01-2024, 06:02   #7
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Re: Open Source Arduino Alternator Regulator

Quote:
Originally Posted by markxengineerin View Post
Are there any other features that people want? Now is the easiest time to add things before finalizing the first PCB order.
Maybe add an option for an extra thermistor for temperature sense on an external rectifier for the people using that?
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Old 21-01-2024, 09:07   #8
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Re: Open Source Arduino Alternator Regulator

Quote:
"safe float mode"
That should be no problem

Quote:
If it can get that measurement from my existing Victron shunt would be great.
I can imagine many reasons why someone would want to read a shunt, so I'll add that

Quote:
2 engine mode so that the two regulators don’t fight or confuse each other.
Making one unit good for two engines doesn't seem like good value to me vs. just buying two. They won't fight each other since they'd both have their own current sensor. To make one unit good for two alternators would require 2 of a few of the more expensive components, and take up too much board space, but otherwise I would go for it.

Quote:
Is it on github?
Not yet- I have only tested the code with a breadboard style setup and with some non-finalized components. It works, and I will add to Github once the PCB is validated.

Quote:
Consider using an ESP32 instead of a Nano. Most have WiFi and BLE. Configuring with a web browser would be nice.
ESP32 would have been a good choice, but I went with the Arduino Uno because I'm most familiar with it. Edit: there are enough advantages to the ESP32 that I'm going to look more deeply- thank you for this idea

Quote:
Maybe add an option for an extra thermistor
I like it, will do
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Old 21-01-2024, 11:16   #9
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Re: Open Source Arduino Alternator Regulator

Quote:
Originally Posted by markxengineerin View Post
I am mostly done developing an alternator regulator with the following features
  • Fully open source, based on Arduino Uno microcontroller, programmable with any PC/laptop
  • Probably <half the cost of any other product in this category
  • Display showing voltage, current, temperature, field command and any error data
  • 12, 24, 48V system support (automatically, same hardware + software)
  • Max 12 amp field current
  • Remote voltage sensing
  • Thermistor for alternator temp sensing
  • Hall effect type alternator output current sensor (clamp style for easy installation)
  • Infinitely programmable charge profile for any battery chemistry
  • Infinitely expandable to communicate with any other device (CAN, NMEA, etc) or add other inputs/outputs
  • Protected + stable power supply (Buck/Boost power regulator operates from 2V to 100V, Reverse Polarity Protected to –40V)
  • 120dB warning buzzer programmable for any fault condition

Are there any other features that people want? Now is the easiest time to add things before finalizing the first PCB order.
Base it on an ESP32 and add wireless remote monitoring, web based configuration management and so forth.
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Old 21-01-2024, 11:39   #10
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Re: Open Source Arduino Alternator Regulator

Yes, currently leaning that way, that or making a shield that's compatible with either microcontroller. This looks possible because "ESP32 in Arduino Uno form factor" is a thing.

That said, I imagine the number of times the average person will want to re-program to be very low, not too inconvenient in those cases to connect a USB cable. And it's not so interesting to monitor either, with the major outputs (voltage, current, temp, PWM%) available on the display, which is easier to look at vs. fumbling with a phone or browser.

Main reasons for considering ESP32 is that there's more capability for future expansion that I haven't thought of a convincing use for yet, but for the same money/effort, might as well.
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Old 21-01-2024, 18:30   #11
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Re: Open Source Arduino Alternator Regulator

The only thing i would add, hardware wise, is a basic 0v/12v input for charge disable, so that battery management systems can be wired to deal with a battery imbalance or overtemperature condition without relying on a network connection that could fail.
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Old 21-01-2024, 19:50   #12
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Re: Open Source Arduino Alternator Regulator

I'm intrigued. Have nearly started the same project a couple times but too busy with other priorities so mentally prepared for a Wakespeed instead. The price of them has jumped up significantly, so back to thinking about rolling my own. I'm looking forward to seeing what you've put together. I'd be happy to design review if you'd like.
-Pete
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Old 22-01-2024, 01:41   #13
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Re: Open Source Arduino Alternator Regulator

Thought about including send/receive from signalk?
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Old 22-01-2024, 01:46   #14
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Re: Open Source Arduino Alternator Regulator

Thank you Mark, count me in, with all the improvements.
I am a bit a tinkerer myself, but not clever enough to design something myself.
happy to put down deposit.
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Old 22-01-2024, 10:39   #15
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Re: Open Source Arduino Alternator Regulator

Quote:
a basic 0v/12v input for charge disable
Easy, done!

Quote:
I'd be happy to design review if you'd like.
Within 1-2 weeks I will shoot you a PM, thanks for the offer

Quote:
Thought about including send/receive from signalk?
This seems like a software request, and I'm no expert in this area, but google search found this: https://github.com/SignalK/SensESP
Assuming this project generates some interest from those with the software development skills, I think Signal K should be possible.

Quote:
not clever enough to design something myself.
Me neither, but luckily I have some good help and know where to ask when more is needed
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